Il Messagero journalist Franca Giansoldati has spoken with Pope Francis in an extensive interview that gained worldwide publicity this week.
The following is ZENIT's English translation of an interview Pope Francis gave the Italian daily Il Messaggero, published on Sunday, June 30th.
The appointment is at Saint Martha's in the afternoon. A speedy check and a Swiss gentleman leads me to a small parlour.
There are six armchairs of somewhat worn out green velvet, a small wooden table, one of those old televisions. Everything is in perfect order. The marble shines, some pictures. It could be a parish waiting room, one of those where one goes to ask for advice, or to fill in marriage documents.
Francis enters smiling: 'Finally! I read you and now I finally meet you.' I blush. 'Instead, I know you and now I listen to you.' He laughs. The Pope laughs heartily, as he will do at other times in the course of an hour long off the cuff conversation. Rome with its big-city evils, the era of change that weakens politics, the effort to defend the common good; the re-appropriation by the Church of the issues of poverty and sharing ('Marx didn't invent anything'), the dismay in face of the degradation of the peripheries of the soul, the slippery moral abyss in which children are abused, the tolerance of begging, the work of minors and, not least the exploitation of child prostitutes not even fifteen-years-old. And by clients who could be their grandfathers.
'Pedophiles' – this is how Pope describes them. Francis talks, explains, interrupts himself, returns to the subject -- passion, gentleness, irony. A faint voice seems to lull the words. His hands accompany his way of reasoning, he clasps them, loosens them, they seem to trace invisible shapes in the air. And he is on excellent form, despite rumours about his health.
--Q: Shall we begin with Rome?
--Pope Francis: But you're aware that I don't know Rome? Just consider that I saw the Sistine Chapel for the first time when I took part in the conclave that elected Benedict XVI (in 2005). I haven't even been to the museums. The fact is that, as Cardinal, I didn't come here often. I know Saint Mary Major because I always went there. And then Saint Lawrence Outside-the-Walls where I went for Confirmations when Don Giacomo Tantardini was there. Obviously I know Piazza Navona because I always lodged on Via della Scriofa, behind there.
- Franca Giansoldati